Science In The Pub Adelaide

GMOs

Genetically modified organisms refer to living organisms that have had their genetic material artificially modified or manipulated through a process called genetic engineering. The end result is a combination of animal, plant, virus, and bacteria genes that do not exist in nature or through the natural crossbreeding methods.

This is usually done to improve a species and achieve a desired psychological trait in the biological product. In traditional crop farming, livestock production, or pet breeding, it is common to breed a particular species to improve yield or have offspring with specific traits. It is this same thing that translates into genetic modification. The difference, however, is that genetic technologies are used instead of natural methods to produce animals with genomes that have been modified at the molecular level. This is usually done by adding the genes of an unrelated species to code for attributes that would be difficult to get through the traditional selective breeding.

The scientific methods used to produce GMOs usually include reproductive cloning and recombinant DNA technology. For reproductive cloning, the nucleus is taken from the cell of the individual that is to be cloned and put in the enucleated cytoplasm (an egg without a nucleus) of a host egg. This will cates a generation of offspring with genes similar to the donor. The first animal to be born through this form of cloning with an adult donor cell instead of the donor embryo is a sheep called Dolly in 1996. Since that time, many animals which include horses, pigs, dogs have been produced through reproductive cloning.

On the other hand, Recombinant DNA technology involves inserting one or more genetic material from the organism of a species into the DNA of another. There is also whole-genome replacement which transplants one of the bacterial genomes into the cytoplasm or cell body of another microorganism. The technology for doing this remains limited.

While GMOs are gradually becoming part and parcel of our daily lives as they are applied in agriculture, research, environmental management, and medicine and have many advantages, it remains a controversial topic with lots of disadvantages as well.

Agriculture

In 1994, genetically modified food was approved for consumption by humans in the United States. Fast forward to 2015, close to 90 per cent of cotton, corn, and soybean planted in that country were genetically modified. While other countries are gradually coming up too; the majority of genetically modified crops are still found in America. These crops generally have an increased yield and in some instances also reduced the application of chemical insecticides.

Medicine and Research

This is another area where GMOs have made significant breakthroughs. In fact, it has played significant roles in biomedical research. Through animal models of human genetic diseases, researchers have been able to test therapies and also explore risks.